Thank God for preseason games, is all I can say after Wednesday night. There are a lot of bugs to work out in the Bombers' new system.
I'm talking about the transportation scheme (although the Bombers' on-field game, um ..., has a few holes as well). I'm sure it looked great on paper, but holy smokes ...
There were two main busing options from my neighbourhood: the special Bomber Blue & Gold Express, and a regularly scheduled University bus. There were two Express buses scheduled, but I wanted to get to the stadium early so I could wander around and check things out, so I left the house almost an hour and a half before the game to catch a regular bus.
Ya, good thinking there cherenkov ... the bus I wanted to catch was 25 minutes late, and when it came it was packed full and I couldn't get on. I would have been no better off waiting for the Express ... there was a line-up of 60 people when I walked by there, and this was stop number 2 on the route. Only about half were able to get on the first Express bus. The bus driver then proceeded on it's route to pick-up point number 3 knowing full well that he wouldn't be able to pick anybody up.
Anyhow, I finally got to the stadium, but a good 10 minutes late for kickoff. I would have missed more of the game had I not gotten off the bus at Pembina Hwy and walked the rest of the way. You see, this is a two-pronged problem: a lack of buses and massive traffic bottle necks. From my perch up in the nose bleed section of the the new ball park, I could see buses lined up on University Crescent right up to the end of the first quarter, when this photo was taken:
I can't help but think a little math would have gone a long way in ensuring sufficient bus service to the stadium. The stadium holds about 30,000 people. There are 5,500 parking spots at the stadium. (I heard there were problems with the parking too, but I won't get into that.) If we assume two people per car, that's 11,000 people parking, leaving 19,000 other people who have to get to the ball park some way.
The Bombers asked people to take the bus, and people took the bus. Winnipeg Transit said they accounted for 5000 people taking the bus but that 8500 people actually did take transit (or attempted to?).
I don't know why they only accounted for 5000 people when 19,000 people needed to get to the stadium and no on-street parking is available in the area. But even if only 5000 people were to take the bus, I don't think they had that covered. Most Winnipeg Transit buses seat 38 people, so let's say 60 people cram on a bus in total. The transit plan had 45 total Express buses for game day service -- the Blue & Gold Express and the Park & Ride Super Express. 45 x 60 = 2700 people. This barely covers half of the passengers that they anticipated.
They also had extra service on the 161 route from downtown, the last of which was optimistically scheduled to leave the U of W at 6:20 and get to the stadium 10 minutes before kick-off. There was no other extra service from any other areas of the city, leaving people to rely on the minimal Express service or the overloaded regular University buses.
Anyhow, they will no doubt add more buses for the home opener later this month, which may solve problem #1: not enough buses, but it doesn't solve problem #2: massive gridlock. In fact, it may make it worse.
I can't help but point out at this stage that had our waffling leaders put rapid transit in place before the stadium was built this might not have been such a big problem.
So what's a person to do? I thought I might bike next time, but even the volunteer-driven bike valet was overwhelmed.
It is a conundrum...
I have thoughts on the new Investors Group Stadium too, but those will have to wait for another day. I'll just say this: it is very nice in some ways, but there are still some big shortfalls including congestion problems within the concourse. But hey, the Rum Hut made it over to the new place!